Friday, September 19, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Train like a Spartan: Week 5

Justin D´Ancona works out during a Relentless Fitness Spartan Race prep class in Washington Square Park in Philadelphia. (Stephanie Aaronson / Philly.com)
Justin D'Ancona works out during a Relentless Fitness Spartan Race prep class in Washington Square Park in Philadelphia. (Stephanie Aaronson / Philly.com)

The thick, humid air outstretched its arms and placed both suffocating hands over my face the instant I got off the train at 13th and Locust for our weekly Spartan training class with Relentless Fitness

Mother Nature’s attempt to set an uncomfortable tone for the day fell short. With Ross leading the pack (on his birthday, nonetheless), I think we had our best workout to date on that sticky, late July morning.

After meeting at the studio, our team made its weekly commute over to Washington Square for what seems to be the final time. Ross is planning to extend class and utilize some of the unique features Penn’s Landing has to offer now that we’ve completed the first phase of training.

Maybe that’s why we had such a solid workout that; it was our farewell tribute to the place where it all began.

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  • Anyway, we gathered at the southeast corner of the square to begin our warm-up.

    Two rounds of overhead squats, lateral lunges, frog jumps, belly blasters and air squats with ceiling chops were our task. We were to complete as many reps as possible within the 30-second timeframe for each exercise.

    Our first circuit of the day featured a lot of explosive, jumping movements. After telling us that the initial exercise would be broad jump burpees, Ross quickly eased our angst by saying, “At least we get it out of the way right off the bat.”

    Well, since he put it like that, it didn’t sound too bad.

    Little did we know, we were completing the circuit a second time in reverse order, meaning we started and finished with the broad jump burpees. 

    Fifteen broad jump burpees (which are exactly as they sound), 10 bench jumps, 30 rainbow lunges, 8 walls jumps completely clearing the stone barriers in the courtyard and 15 tuck jumps (standing still and jumping straight up trying to bring your knees to your chest.) Oh, and a short run to get to each station.

    The second circuit involved a lot of quick, agility-like movements. We started with a 50-foot bear crawl that led into 12 squat thrusters.

    Squat thrusters are supposed to be the PG version of a burpee, but for me they seem to be harder than the original. Maybe it’s because I’m not able to use the pushup portion of the move to explode into my jump? I don’t know, but I despise them. Moving on …

    The next segment of the circuit brought us to the center of the fountain where we did 20 step-up lunges, two complete shuffles around the fountain and 20 pike-ups on the fountain’s ledge.

    We ran to another entrance of the square and did 20 staggered pushups preceded by 30 skaters.

    The second time around, the fountain looked like an oasis with crisp water teasing us as it playfully splashed around in the giant bowl. It was a total mirage formulated by the Philadelphia sun, only to be disproved by the middle-aged man who randomly decided to hop in on this part of the workout. 

    As we got into the last leg of the circuit I could hear Ross’s feet scampering to the finish line during the bear crawls.

    Next, we did two full minutes of Ross’s famed “Rossburpee,” the exercise he introduced to us last week. As a quick refresher they are: right and left leg raises into a squat, a jump and then a cross leg pushup on each side.

    “I wanted to make the burpee a more total body movement. After years of doing them I came up with this. Now if only there was a way I can incorporate the back muscles,” he said.

    Terrific. 

    We finished with two rounds of suicides, before heading back to camp. The shirt I was wearing could literally have been wrung out.

    The workout was awesome. My body felt strong, even after being pushed to its limit. There’s no better feeling than seeing the hard work you’ve been putting in start to pay off. 

    Relentless Fitness
    249 S 10th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107
    (215) 351-6260

    Justin D'Ancona Philly.com Health
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